By COLlive reporter
Chabad at the University of Illinois, directed by Rabbi Dovid and Goldie Tiechtel, has launched a major campaign to increase Jewish pride and spread the light of Chanukah on campus and the nearby cities of Champaign-Urbana.
Rabbi Tiechtel was inspired to coordinate Chanukah-themed billboards in his area, due to the rising antisemitism found on college campuses today.
“With all the antisemitism and pro-BDS rhetoric that exists on campus, we might become fearful of our Jewish identity, or spend time worrying what others are saying about us,” Rabbi Tiechtel told COLlive.com. “When an antisemitic event occurs, Jews around the world talk about the need to respond. However, the Rebbe always taught us that we have to be proactive, not reactive, about Jewish pride. We must work to create a sense that we are proud Jews, not only in the face of antisemitism – but always.”
In response, the Tiechtels have arranged for a huge backlit billboard with a beaming “Happy Chanukah” at the campus’s main entrance, as well as 8 other print and digital billboards spread across the Univerity of Illinois campus. They have also arranged for 13 public Menorah displays on Campus and in the nearby cities Champaign-Urbana.
They are also planning grand public Menorah lighting events each night of Chanukah, to take place at 3 dormitories, 5 Fraternities, and Sororities, and other locations on campus, including a covid-safe drive-in event, throughout the Chanukah holiday.
The highlight of the nightly events will be the grand Menorah Lighting on the Campus Quad with the participation of the President of the University of Illinois Timothy L. Killeen, on Tuesday evening, November 30 at 6:30 PM.
Rabbi Tiechtel says the project, which is being run at the cost of $37,000, is catching on with other Shluchim around the world. “More and more shluchim are getting on board with the idea of placing billboards in their areas to reach as many Jews as possible with the message and light of Chanukah,” he said.
“With all the struggle in the world, with growing Anti Semitism and hate, and the worry about health, we need to add light, in a strong healthy way, coming from a place of pride, strength and courage, building a generation of proud Jewish people, a generation where all can feel positive about our Jewish identity,” Rabbi Tiechtel said.